“It’s not typical for artists to turn the art-making
process into a spectator sport. If you had told Prior years
ago that he would become a performance
artist, he would have said you were nuts.”
Jimmie Trammel, Tulsa World
To see Rob Prior paint is to experience a glimpse at the impossibly bare singularity of creativity. He paints with both hands, sometime on two canvases at once, and often with his eyes closed. For more than thirty years, and for an audience numbering in the millions, Prior has elevated the act of placing pigment onto paper to the level of performance art.
What for audiences at comic cons and rap concerts is a mesmerizing experience is, for Prior, just another day at the office. Once, when asked for a brief résumé, he responded flatly, “I make art.” And in some way, that’s true. In other ways, though, it’s a profoundly modest understatement for an artist who has been called one of the top intellectual property creators alive today. Prior’s works have appeared in galleries across the United States and around the world. His paintings of monsters, myths, and superheroes have hung in some of the most prestigious museums around the world. Yet, Prior’s creations go so much farther than just the art on the canvas.
His diverse experience speaks volumes to his ability to balance the competing demands of almost every creative genre. Painter, sculptor, filmmaker – no creative medium is beyond his reach. Prior trained at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, where he studied painting and illustration with some of the greatest practitioners of his generation. After AIP, he received an MFA in Studio Art from the University of Toledo, his home town. He has worked almost non-stop as a professional artist since he was 13, and his commercial works include illustrations and covers for Dungeons & Dragons, sculptures and props for Joss Whedon’s Firefly, and original monster creations for Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He’s also completed numerous commissions for film studios, including LucasFilms productions, HBO’s Game of Thrones, and more than a dozen other publications and production houses.
Whether he’s live painting a pop culture icon such as the Joker, his go-to subject, or crafting a fine art portrait of hip-hop legend Tupac, Prior brings his mastery of multiple techniques and media to the creation at hand. He is a master with pencil, brushes, and airbrushes alike, and he can apply watercolor, acrylics, or oils with equal skill – and often at the same time.
With each brush stroke, each splash of paint, Rob Prior embodies the advice he gives young, aspiring artists:
"Work harder than you ever thought you had to, dream bigger
than you ever thought you could, and keep trying even when you
are told to stop. Live every day like it was your last."
Artist, Director, Producer, Creator